NFU says elected Directors strong supporters of public interest and farmers’ seed rights

(December 17, 2013, Saskatoon, SK) —The National Farmers Union (NFU) congratulates the new members of the Boards of Directors for the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission. The election for each Commission, conducted by secret mail-in ballots, was open to all wheat and barley growers in the province.

“The NFU is confident that the majority of the directors elected to the Commissions will make good use of farmer check-off dollars, promote public interest research and keep seed costs down,” stated NFU past president Terry Boehm on behalf of the NFU Seed and Trade Committee.

Ed Sagan, Saskatchewan NFU Regional Coordinator, noted that the election process got off to a rocky start. “The Commissions could have just followed the successful election model of the Canadian Wheat Board. Unfortunately, many qualified producers had to call the Commissions to request voting packages or because their packages didn’t contain a blank envelope for them to submit their vote anonymously,” he stated.

Boehm suggests that the Wheat and Barley Commissions and their directors can help facilitate farmers’ analysis and discussion of the Agricultural Growth Act recently announced by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “Bill C-18 is complex, affecting seven ag-related pieces of legislation,” Boehm asserted. “The Plant Breeders’ Act will be changed to align with UPOV ’91, an intellectual property rights regime that gives global seed/chemical corporations even more control and power over seed than they have now.” 

While Ritz says that farmers’ seed saving privilege is protected, he doesn’t mention that it will be a much narrower privilege that can be too easily removed by a quick regulatory change. “UPOV ‘91 is an attack on the ability of farmers to save, reuse, exchange and sell seeds and their autonomy. The majority of these new directors know this and I am sure they will defend public plant breeding and push back on UPOV ’91,” he continued.

“We are looking forward to working with both the Wheat Development and Barley Development Commissions on issues that are critically important to farmers in Canada and elsewhere, and which have profound implications for national sovereignty and democratic process,” Boehm concluded.

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For more information, contact:

Ed Sagan, NFU Region 6 (Sask.) Coordinator:       (306) 728-3760 or (306) 728-9050
Terry Boehm, NFU past president:                           011-33-1-44-84-72-50 (Paris); email: centaur2@sasktel.net